Bronco Nation’s exhilaration meter

Where does Boise State’s come-from-behind 36-31 upset of Florida State rank in school history? Well, it’s definitely top 10. But let’s look at it from a different perspective: the feeling that it brought to Bronco Nation. Games against the Power 5 have been a struggle recently. The one win in the past two years, over Oregon in the Las Vegas Bowl, wasn’t a real surprise. But there were so many unknowns in this one, from the logistical nightmare forced by Hurricane Dorian to Boise State’s true freshman at quarterback. When the Seminoles struck on an all-too-easy 58-yard touchdown pass to go up 31-13 with four minutes left in the half, I can’t say I didn’t think of Georgia in 2005—or at least Oklahoma State last year. But then there was the rally. I’m calling this the Broncos’ most exhilarating win since the one over the Ducks at Autzen Stadium in 2008.


There had been only six different quarterbacks in Boise State history to throw for 400 yards in a game—until Saturday. Hank Bachmeier’s 407-yard day at Florida State puts him in elite company: Ryan Dinwiddie, Brett Rypien, Kellen Moore, Jim McMillan, Grant Hedrick and Bart Hendricks. And now, just one game into his career, Bachmeier is three 400-yard games away from tying Dinwiddie’s school record. Bachmeier now holds the Bronco mark for most passing yards in a season opener, and he’s the first Boise State quarterback ever to notch a 400-yard game against a Power 5 opponent. He was ESPN’s No.1 college football headline Monday night during the Notre Dame-Louisville game with Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit.


Robert Mahone, who had rushed for a total of 128 and 115 yards, respectively, in the previous two seasons, exceeded all expectations at Florida State. When you rush for 142 yards on 24 carries the way the stiff-armin’ Mahone did in Tallahassee, there’s usually a huge-gainer that helps the cause. Take Boise State’s last regular season game of 2018, for example. Alexander Mattison had a 200-yard night versus Utah State, averaging 5.4 yards per carry, boosted by a 59-yard run. Mahone averaged 5.9 yards against the Seminoles, and his longest run was 18 yards. That’s called pounding a defense. Every time Mahone touched the ball, it was boom-boom-boom. His 142 yards were the fourth-most ever by a Bronco against a Power 5 school.


Boise State was confident David Moa would be back in full-go mode for the Florida State game, and it professed to feel the same way about Riley Whimpey. Moa was back, shakin’ and bakin’ (kind of) on his 16-yard return of the second quarter fumble forced by Kekaula Kaniho. Whimpey? He started and shined less than 10 months after tearing his ACL. Whimpey’s forced fumble (recovered by Kekoa Nawahine) is what actually kick-started the Broncos’ rally, and it didn’t happen until less than five minutes remained in the third quarter. As for the injuries suffered in the game by safety DeAndre Pierce and offensive tackle John Ojukwu, Harsin said yesterday they are “not season-ending.” I’d be surprised to see Pierce or Ojukwu in uniform Friday night against Marshall—but who knows?


This is why kicker Eric Sachse came to Boise State as a graduate transfer from Division III Trinity College: to make big kicks in front of a lot of people. The self-proclaimed Bronco “rental car” didn’t take long to realize that dream—and deliver for his new school. Sachse’s five field goals tied a school record held by Roberto “Feet of Stone” Moran versus Idaho State in 1985 and Eric Guthrie against Northern Arizona 1971. I attended both games, and the scenarios were nothing like what Sachse faced Saturday. His biggest field goal was the longest, a 41-yarder with less than three minutes left that stopped the bleeding and narrowed Florida State’s lead to 31-16. Sachse was named Mountain West Co-Special Teams Player of the Week Monday with Nevada kicker Brandon Talton (see below).


The Mountain West couldn’t have imagined a better weekend. In addition to Boise State’s upset of Florida State, Nevada took down Purdue 34-31 and Wyoming toppled Missouri 37-31. After rallying from 17 points down Friday night, the Wolf Pack did it with a 56-yard field goal from freshman walk-on kicker Brandon Talton. In the locker room after the game, Nevada coach Jay Norvell awarded Talton a game ball…and a scholarship. The Cowboys recovered from a 14-0 hole in the first quarter to notch their first Power 5 win of the Craig Bohl era. Add in Hawaii’s win over Arizona in Week 0, and the Mountain West is 4-3 versus the Power 5. Two of the three losses weren’t that far off: Utah State 38-35 to Wake Forest in a game the Aggies should have won, and Fresno State 31-23 to USC.


Maybe the margin would have been different if Idaho had still been an FBS school, the way It was back when it signed on to play Penn State. Not a lot, though. The Nittany Lions embarrassed the Vandals 79-7 Saturday, racking up 653 yards of offense and holding Idaho to 145. The disparities were stark—the Vandals recorded just five first downs and were 1-of-15 on third down conversions. And College of Idaho lived up to its billing Saturday, opening the season with a 48-12 rout of rival Eastern Oregon at Simplot Stadium. The Coyotes destroyed the Mountaineers on the ground, rolling up 377 rushing yards behind 100-yard games from Nick Calzaretta (the Frontier Conference Offensive Player of the Week) and Darius-James Peterson. It was the Yotes’ seventh straight victory, building on their incredible finish in 2018.


NFL Cutdown Day did what it was expected to do Saturday, cutting Boise State’s numbers on NFL rosters in half. Brett Rypien was one of those waived, but that was part of the plan—and he has been signed to Denver’s practice squad. The Broncos kept Rypien in the organization while cutting Kevin Hogan. The most surprising casualty Saturday was Cedrick Wilson, cut by Dallas. The Cowboys elected to keep Devin Smith as their fifth wide receiver, but they did keep Wilson on their practice squad.. Dallas also released veteran George Iloka, who may be at the end of the road. The only surprise (and a mild one at that) among those who made the cut this weekend was Darian Thompson with the Cowboys. Thompson is going into his fourth NFL season.

In addition to Rypien and Wilson, three other former Boise State players who landed on the waiver wire Saturday were added to practice squads. Donte Deayon will be on the L.A. Rams’ practice squad to begin his fourth NFL season. It’s hard to let a good locker room guy like Deayon go. The Broncos’ two leading receivers last season, Sean Modster and A.J. Richardson, were signed to the practice units at Baltimore and Arizona, respectively. That’s an accomplishment for Modster and Richardson—they faced an uphill battle as undrafted free agents.

This Day In Sports…brought to you by COMMERCIAL TIRE…keeping you and your family on the road.

September 3, 2011: Six years to the day after falling flat in its first appearance on a big national stage, Boise State avenges its 2005 rout at Georgia with a dominating 35-21 victory over the Bulldogs at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. After starting the game (and his senior season) 1-of-3 for four yards, Kellen Moore finished 28-of-34—an 82.3 percent clip, the seventh-best mark in Bronco history. Moore threw the 100th touchdown pass of his career to freshman Matt Miller and followed with TD strikes to Kyle Efaw and Tyler Shoemaker.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)

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